A video of endangered Ganges River Dolphin, a freshwater breed enjoying in the Ganges in Meerut is going viral online. The clip was shared by Indian Forest Services officer Akash Deep Badhawan.
The Ganges river dolphin is a freshwater dolphin found mainly in the Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers and their tributaries in India, Bangladesh, and Nepal. The dolphin, known as India’s national aquatic animal, is now considered an endangered species, making the sighting all the more extraordinary for wildlife lovers on social media.
“Ganges River Dolphin, our National Aquatic Animal once lived in the Ganga-Brahmaputra-Meghna river system is now endangered,” wrote Mr. Badhawan while sharing the video. “They live in freshwater and are practically blind, with small slits as eyes. I was fortunate to spot these in the Ganges in Meerut.”
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Their habitat is largely tracts of the Ganges where fish is aplenty and water currents are slow. Here dense human population has lead to fishermen catching them along with fish and become “bycatch”. However, they are still hunted at times for their meat and oil by few!
“Officially discovered in 1801, these creatures are practically blind, with small slits for eyes. They hunt using ultrasonic sounds to track other fishes in the vicinity. Usually, solo, sometimes they are found in small groups, especially Mother and calf,” he added.
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The video has already received over 27,000 views after it was shared. It has also collected several comments, including some from people reporting their own sightings of Ganges river dolphins.
Ganges river system is the only one on earth to have both freshwater dolphins and riverine sharks
Often known as the ‘Tiger of the Ganges’, the river dolphin is an indicator animal, which has the same position in a river ecosystem as a tiger in a forest.
Direct killing, habitat fragmentation due to the construction of dams and barrages, indiscriminate fishing, and pollution of rivers are some of the major threats affecting the species.
The total population of Gangetic dolphins across the country is estimated to be only 600, of which their population at Katarniaghat wildlife sanctuary itself is around 100.
Regular monitoring and awareness programs have led to an increase in the dolphin population in the state of Uttar Pradesh.